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Rocking, rolling and rails

October 06, 2005|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Yoga Ma Baby Ga

Down Dog Productions

DVD: $24.95

For infants and moms

This 55-minute yoga routine, designed for new moms and their babies, combines yoga instruction with quiet music and a peaceful montage of real-life images of the ocean, waterfalls and lakes, butterflies, flowers, undersea life, colorful toys, lions, kittens, puppies and tots. The DVD can be played in three ways: the workout for mom only, images only, or images and workout combined.


I Love Toy Trains, the Final Show

TM Books & Video

DVD: $14.95

For all train fans, preschoolers to adults

(800) 892-2822

The 15th and apparently last release in the popular series whose simple format -- action shots of toy trains and real trains, toy train history, appealing traveling music by James Coffey and commentary by child host Jeff McComas -- has attracted train fanatics of all ages. Included here: a tour of the studio's treasure trove of train layouts, a homemade layout taking shape from plywood and plaster, and a disarming look back at the on-camera career of the now-adolescent Jeff, who was just a preschooler when his gig began.


Mother Goose Rocks! Top 20 Countdown

Boffomedia Inc.

DVD: $14.95

Ages 2 to 10

It's hard to imagine a 5-year-old getting excited that a Madonna sound-alike is singing "Wheels on the Bus," though at least they'll recognize the song, which may not be the case with every animated music video on this parody release. A mite too adult-aware for its own good, it relegates preschoolers to a peripheral audience as it shoehorns folk songs, traditional children's songs and nursery rhymes into a "hip" format, performed by singers imitating Celine Dion, Cher, U2, Sting, Smash Mouth and others, while blandly animated versions of the artists perform.


Nursery Tap, Hip to Toe, Volume 1

Nursery Tap

DVD: $19.95 (includes music CD)

Ages 2 to 7

(888) 855-0545

A captivating approach to rhythm and rhyme. This little piece of original dance theater offers storytelling vignettes performed by an unseen narrator and dancers visible only from the waist or shoulders down. The result is remarkably expressive and witty ballet, tap and hip-hop choreography. A sampling: a tap-dancing "Pat-a-Cake," a "Little Miss Muffet" who pirouettes on pointe and an "Old King Cole" who takes on a hip-hop bounce. A short DVD extra demonstrates some basic ballet and tap steps.


The Shushybye Dream Band,

Live on Tour

WGBH Boston Video

DVD: $14.95

Ages 1 to 5, (800) 949-8670

This pleasant concert video, with simple lullaby lyrics and a slick pop-rock vibe, introduces the "Shushies" -- Snoozles, Dozie and Zees -- colorful, big-headed kid-like characters who live in Shushybye and make dreams for children, boxed up for magic train delivery.

The characters appear onstage as actors in puppet body suits and as cartoons in too-brief computer-animated snippets. In the audience, preschoolers and toddlers in pajamas cuddle with parents while the Shushybye Dream Band, led by singers Randi Soyland-Vamos and Michael North, perform Steve Syatt's quiet-time songs. Also onstage: the Shushybye King and Conductor McCloud (who's a tad abrasive for the cozy mood).


Parent Song: Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes, Sung by Paul Tracey

Kunjani Music

CD: $15

Ages 1 to 6

South African-born storyteller, educator and troubadour extraordinaire Paul Tracey is a grandfather now, and that's his inspiration for this jaunty collection of 35 classic nursery rhymes that take on new life, shaped into mini-stories with Tracey's lively imagination and infectious comic bounce.


Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Listening Library

CD (6 discs, 7 hours,

26 minutes): $34

Ages 9 to 12

The significance of Mildred D. Taylor's book about an eventful year in the lives of 9-year-old African American Cassie Logan and her close-knit family in 1930s Mississippi hasn't waned since it won the Newbery Medal for excellence in 1977. Neither has its storytelling magic, enhanced by the late actor Lynne Thigpen's memorable performance. She turns Taylor's deeply affecting book into vivid theater of the mind as Cassie and her brothers try to make sense of the racism that touches their lives.


Color Wheel Cartwheel

Laura Freeman

CD: $16

Ages 3 to 6

With marvelous musical chops and styles as varied as jazz, R&B and country, Texas-based folk singer Laura Freeman and deft Louisiana musicians serve up an effervescent odyssey through the world of color -- yellow "melts like butter on a cob of corn on a hot day in July," orange is a cha-cha lesson in color mixing and blue is a sweet and wacky progression from a sad whale to Bluebeard the pirate and his mom.

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